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A NC Mom to 4 wonderful boys, Wife to GREAT Husband, & TK Teacher!! Hey... Add a comment if you want!! I'd love to hear from you!!!

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Plymouth Has Come To TK

Well, it took me and my son about 2 1/2 hrs to put together, but we finally created our Native American "Village" and Mayflower ship.  We came to school to put all the items together so the little ones would come into class and be excited and when we came into the school we received a stinky surprise.  Some of our Pumpkin Literacy project decided to implode and cause a great deal of smell and mess.  It took us an hour to clean it all up, and THEN on the way out the wonderful, sturdy garbage bags that the school provides, broke and nasty, smelly pumpkin guts fell out all over the place.  Oh... what we do for our little ones!!!!
Sorry about the rant!!  Never the less... We created and finished our little history exhibits and they were ready for my guys and girls!!!  They loved it!!

My son really wanted the kids to have a "stove top" to put the pot on over the flames, but we couldn't figure out what to use, so he rigged this string.  It lasted about an hour with the kids... but it was cute ;)

I made the flames, logs and rocks during our 3 day weekend over the Veterans Day holiday.  The tutorial I used can be found here... but I have to say I really just free handed it and sewed them together as best as I could.  I figure the kids don't mind the tattered ends, and I was right.  They just loved it and have been using it for so many different things.

This is our TK Mayflower.  I couldn't find a photo of the sail without kids in it, and due to privacy issues at our school I am unable to have kids in the photo, even if I block out their faces... sooooo, this is our sad little sail-less Mayflower.  We added some telescopes, oars and the kids have been using our blocks to make planks, bridges and seats everyday. I am so happy with their use of the areas.
Next week I will add more props to each center.  We will introduce some clothing, utensils they used and some animal "pelts" to create Native American clothing.  These have been such popular centers this past week, I am seeing a lack of focus when I pull kids for individual work time.  I am thinking I may have to create a work area for individual work time away from the hustle and bustle of the free centers.
I am excited to be able to start adding things to my blog.  It has been a long time since I was blogging everyday on my Kozy Kids blog but I am starting to remember to get on her more often!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Leaves and Fall

Fall has finally made it to our neck of the woods here in NC and what a beautiful sight it is.  The weather has a nice chill to the air, the breeze brings with it a wonderful fresh air smell, and we are loving spending amazing mornings outside in the Outdoor Classroom. 
Last year my team teacher and I decided to utilize an area in our nearby nature area, that is owned by our school, but shared with the community.  We took the students out there and let them play, just PLAY.  We found the results to be dramatic.  The time outside in the natural environment brought a calm to our rowdiest students, it brought a confidence to our shyest students, and it brought out abilities that our students didn't even know they had.  It was wondrous to see.   
This year we brought our newest charges out there and although they love it we have had different challenges than last year.  Some of our boys are a little aggressive with the sticks and the "play" has become more of the fighting type than the exploring type.  The last few weeks has been a lot of work for us teachers, but as we continue to creep along the learning path the students are beginning to get it.  They are beginning to see the leaves as roofs for fairy houses, they see the logs as balance beams and the sticks as something to help them balance and not a weapon, and they are beginning to see the beauty in the squirrels, insects and sound of the rustle of leaves in the breeze.  Amazing!!!
We decide to take the book Leaf Man by Lois Elhert to the Outdoor Classroom and read it in the round (which is a place we created to sit and talk).  We pulled out the blankets and found spots on the logs and enjoyed a great rendition of the book. 
Then it was time to create our own Leaf Man with things we found in the Outdoor Classroom.  What fun we had!!!

Our Outdoor Classroom is a special part of our program.  Hearing the words, "Get your boots on!" is like music to the 4 year olds ears.  They get so excited and can't wait to get out there.  It is a great way to connect our classroom learning to real life experiences and I am so happy to be working in a school that has one. 
We also completed our first Family Project.  We love including our families in our classroom work and this was a fun way to start that home-school connection.  We did a Pumpkin Literature Project.  The students choose a pumpkin, then choose a book, then choose a character from the book and made their pumpkin into that character.  We had some great characters!! The kids loved to talk about their project as they created them at home and I loved getting the play by play from them as the week went by, then to finally see them all come in was exciting for them as well as me!!!

Don't you love them!!! 
 I don't know if the minion is my favorite or the Llama.
It is wonderful to love your job as much as me!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Classroom Photos... Finally!!!

It has been very hard keeping this blog up and running and I apologize for not writing each day.  I, of course, forgot my good camera at home on the day of our Halloween party, but we had our kids documentation camera so I took some photos with that.  A little blurry, but that's okay :)
My room is quite big actually.  But it seems like I have no wall space to use.  I have a beautiful USA map and I have no where to hang it up so the kids can see it/use it.  So, it sits under my science sensory table waiting....
 This is a view from my doorway to the room... I acquired both my supply cabinet and my team teachers cabinet since my room is bigger.  So that little bump out is occupied with cabinets, water cooler and refrigerator.
 Again, another view from the doorway... you can see my tables in the middle, my circle area and Smart Board, my writing and science area beyond the meeting area, and my block area. I made the pumpkin bean toss game for our Halloween Party, the kids loved it.
 A wider view... my housekeeping is off to the left where the play stand is and next to the housekeeping is the free art center and across from the art center is the sensory/easel area.
 This view is from my writing center... that is my bathroom door to the right, my desk area and the cubby area at the door.
Close up of my desk area.  It's a mess and I am having a hard time organizing it.  I try, but I am a piler upper... Then I try to put things where they belong each day after school and I say to myself... "Ahhh... that's where that was."  In front of my desk is my computer desk where we usually have 2 tablets for the kids to use, but I was charging and downloading some ebooks on to them at that moment.
So, that is my classroom, just a few weeks late... Okay, a few months late ;)  It has been a great year so far and I wish I had posted about our tasting party, outdoor classroom, literary pumpkin project, and all the wonderful things we have been doing.  But, now that I am back on this computer for something other than report cards... I will get back on the blogging wagon!!  So, hopefully I didn't lose all my 7 followers ;) and someone will read what we have to say :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Feeling A Little Overwhelmed

 Okay, I haven't forgotten that I was supposed to post some new photos of my classroom, but......

I am STILL in the process of working on it.  Wow, getting a whole new room up and going from that totally bare canvas... well let me tell you, it is overwhelming!!!  I am not only exhausted, but my mind is fried from all the decisions about bulletin boards (which are not even up yet), where the Smart Board will go, carpets, do I have to much furniture? not enough furniture? is the Monster Theme going to be to scary for 4/5 yr olds? What about specials, here come the special teachers asking when I want to have Art, Music, Science... but of course they only have 20 minutes 1 day a week ;)  so it isn't really what time I want to have specials, they are just trying to be nice I guess.  All of this and I haven't even got the cubby tags up yet and all my little TKers will be here on Friday for student orientation!!!

Oh My!!!  I still have lots to do!!  Although, when I look back at the photos on this here blog... I realize all I have accomplished and know I will get it done, and it won't look half bad either ;)

I'll take photos before I leave tomorrow and post!!!  Since it had better be done before I leave tomorrow or I'm in trouble!!

I hope everyone else is doing a better job at organizing and getting those rooms ready!!  I can't wait to see pics of what your doing in your rooms!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Peek Inside the Classroom...

I came into school this week to work on my classroom.  You see, I had shared a room last year with another teacher and since our enrollment went up, I was given my own classroom this year, Woo Hoo!!  Which is GREAT, but it comes with a lot of stuff to do!!!
I have an empty canvas!! 
 This is the view from the door as you walk in. It is a large room, but I'm bummed because my windows don't open.  I love fresh air and wind blowing through the windows... but, oh well.
All my furniture needed to be ordered, as well as curriculum supplies.  I had boxes of furniture in my room, but no curriculum stuff yet.  Hoping it will come before school starts.
 Here is the wall next to the door.  That is where my desk will be and that door leads to the bathroom.  It has the cutest little toilet!!
 I have this weird bump out on the next wall... It will hold my cabinets, water cooler, and fridge.  I inherited an awful fridge from our concession stand that is huge.  But, I need it to store lunch boxes so I will take what I can get :)
 That is one of my wonderful sons, who gave up his whole day to help me unpack boxes and get situated.  He was a real Godsend!!  Over on the wall is all our nap mats... they are brand new and smell like rubber, so we need to air them out.  I'm glad I remembered from last year.  Those large boxes are my new shelves and my desk. 

 Just another shot of the back wall...
 This wall will house my Smart Board and white boards.  I was thinking that it will take up a lot of wall space and I am worried I won't have any space for bulletin boards, kids art work, or some of my curriculum materials.  Oh the dilemma's!!
 Now we are back where we started... 
 I am losing sleep over trying to imagine in my head the best scenarios for where all my centers should be.  How do I utilize all the empty space and yet keep the flow of the room going.  You will have to stay tuned to see how the room progresses :) I will be going in on Monday, hopefully I will have some more of my ordered materials come in, and I can get things going .




Friday, August 2, 2013

I Teach K!!


Ok, I know that it has taken me a long time to get this blog post up, but man I have been busy!!  After the I Teach K! conference I was home for about 18hrs, when I packed up my boys and traveled to Long Island, NY to visit Grandpa!!  Then when I got back, I pretty much turned around and started getting my empty classroom in shape (photos to come)

I loved the I Teach K! conference!!  It was awesome.  Better than any other educational conference I have been to!!!  I met so many new friends, shared so many new ideas, and came home with to many ideas to even use.   My brain was, and is, swirling with ideas I want to implement in my classroom this year.  Yet, I know I cannot.  I need to pick 1 or 2 ideas that I can actually do, and will meet the needs of my kids this year. 

Before leaving for the conference, Tracy and I linked up with some fellow bloggers on Facebook who were going to the conference alone.  We made plans to meet up for dinner the first night and hopefully we would all hit it off and we would have people to "hang" with during the conference.  Well... it was great!!  I made friends for a lifetime!!  We all had so much in common and everyone was so easy going, it was easy to get a long.  I don't think we had breakfast, lunch, or dinner alone the whole time we were there.  We also were lucky to have at least one person to sit with in our workshops.  It was great.  They all have blogs, so pop on over and check them out!!
In the picture above...

A highlight of the trip was meeting Debbie Clement.  Those of you who do not know this quirky, fun, and wonderfully talented person you need to pop on over to her blog, Rainbows Within Reach, and read up!!!  She is amazing and is one busy person!!!

Tracy, Susan and LC were lots of fun at the Blogger Meet Up!!  We had drink, snacks, and lots of give aways!!  What teacher doesn't like a give away!!!  Lcie is from Germany and her blog, The Beezy Teacher is great!!  

One of my favorite workshops was by this guy, Matt B Gomez!!  A kindergarten teacher in Texas, who is so tech savvy, I am jealous!!  I wish I could get some of his ideas off the ground. I went to his Virtual Field Trip workshop and WOW!!  I was blown away with what can be done in just a few minutes a day with the kids.  It opens up their world to so many things and that Smart Board won't collect to much dust!! 


There was so much going on that week... workshops, speakers (Ron Clark was wonderful by the way, but needs his own post!!), friends, and the exhibit hall (which I spent way to much time in!!)  We also got to do some sight seeing.  I loved it all, but while on Freemont Street we found this guy below...

He was really cool... I had to take a picture. Well, I don't know if you have ever been to Vegas, but he has this little sign, with a container, that says, I dance for tips!! or something like that.  Well, I didn't want to see him dance, I just wanted a photo.  So... I snapped away and as I started to walk away, he pointed at me and said, "You don't want me to come down there do you??" and then proceeded to point to his tip jar.  Come ON!!!  Really.  So I grabbed a couple quarters and walked away.  Interesting.  The Vegas Strip was mobbed with these type of people.  Girls in Show Girl attire taking photos and getting "tips", heck I even say an old Bert and Ernie, complete with Rubber Duckie... but11' man their costumes were mangy.  So, be aware if you go!!!  If you want a photo... be prepared to "tip!!"
Ok, this post is way to long now!! I really need to say goodbye!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Fall Family Project

 I know that it is not Halloween, or even Fall right now, but I wanted to show off the amazing little pumpkin family project we did last year with our TK class.  I got the idea from my son's 2nd grade teacher, but he had to read the book, write a book report, and then make his "Character Pumpkin."  It was such a fun family project for us, I thought the TK families would enjoy the project too. 

We asked each family to choose a book, read it, and pick a character from it to make their pumpkin into.  We had such a great response.  We had children who wanted to complete the whole pumpkin on their own, and others that made it a family project.  They came out great!!

I think my favorite one was the mummy mini pumpkin!!  It was so simple, but the cutest little guy I had ever seen. 

I think this little batty guy was fun too!!

I'm trying to remember what book this little lady came from, but I can't remember.  Maybe a Pinkalicious book??

This is a view of all our great pumpkins!! 
I love themed projects and Halloween/Fall is a great time to do them with our families.  We also do our Star of the Week themed family project for each student.  Each student gets a large piece of poster board and they can decorate it anyway they'd like.  We have had some students just use crayons and stickers, and others who went all out with photos, writing, and magazine cut-outs of their favorite things.  It is a lot of fun looking at them and giving the students a chance to explain them to their classmates.  I can't wait until next school year and more family project!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Great Deals!!!

I was out with my son today doing some errands when we decided to stop by a new Dollar General store in our area.  It was much bigger than the one we have closer to our house.  I was excited to see that they had some educational things there... all for a $1!!!! 
This photo is of all the loot together...
I was excited to get these cute number banners.  Not sure where any of it will go in my classroom just yet, but I was thinking in a math center on the wall or back of a cabinet?? 
They also had these "award" frames, I think that's what they were called.  You can put artwork, special homework or photos of the kids in them.   Again, hopefully I have a spot for them on the wall somewhere.  If not, I will use them at home with my own kids, for a $1 I couldn't pass them up.

I think my favorite one is this "I Spy" Spinner.  I work with 4 & 5 yr old TK students and this is a great beginning of the year game we can play.  I think that eventually, when they are comfortable playing it alone, I will put it in a center to be used whenever they want.

I love getting good deals.  Creating a whole new classroom isn't always easy on a teachers budget.  I have a lot of things from the daycare, but some of it is to young for this group.  I am excited to be setting off on this journey, I think it is going to be a great year.  Now, off to make some TPT copies for my Beginning of the Year Centers :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A New Doll House

I am so excited!!!  I have been wanting to make a cardboard dollhouse for the peg dolls I have been making and I finally did it!!  I found one on Pinterest that I thought I could get done without to much time and effort, and I did it!!!  I went to Dollar General to pick up a few other things, but when I saw the tri-fold display poster board (you know, the kind you use for the science fair) I decided to bring it home and try it out.  It, of course, wasn't the exact measurements that every other tri-fold in a "real" store has, but I just fudged the measurements and did the best I could.  I think it came out great.  My board was 35.5" high, which I thought was way to tall for my peg dolls, so I cut the board in half and continued that way.

I am looking forward to decorating the walls, roof, adding windows, and making some furniture.  I think the kids will get a kick out of it next year.  I am interested in seeing how long it will take 12 4 and 5 year olds to destroy it. 

If you are interested in the tutorial that I used you can go to Jeannie Guzis Photography to get all the info.  She did a really great job detailing the directions and made it so easy to follow and even change up when I needed to change my measurements.  I LOVE Pinterest!!!

I will keep you posted as it comes together!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Journey into TK Begins

(beginning of rock garden in our Outdoor Classroom)
(rock garden & beginning of container garden space in the background)

The end of the school year was bittersweet.  It is hard letting go of the wonders that these little ones have become in the 10 months that we have had them.  Yet, summer is here and we have been busy her at our house. 

Our first big trip this year was to Cooperstown Dreams Park, in Cooperstown, NY.  Wow, what a trip.  The boys loved it and they did a great job.  While I was gone, I found out that our school had enough interest in our TK program that they would be adding another TK.  Yeah, I was offered the job and I accepted.  How excited I am to be thinking of creating an amazing world of learning for these new little ones coming up.

I have scoured blog land, Pinterest, and the Internet looking for classroom design ideas, curriculum ideas, and how to incorporate the wonders of the outdoor classroom into our daily schedule.  You see, I am committed to sharing the outdoors with my kids as much as possible.  Last year we incorporated the outdoor classroom as much as we could and the kiddos absolutely loved it!!  They learned so much and you could see how they became so comfortable in the outdoor space.  I hope we can continue to bring more to the space. 

Until then... I will start separating my books into themes, gathering my science materials to create an unbelievable science area, figure out how to incorporate a writing space that will be enticing to 4 & 5 yr olds, and a housekeeping area that has both function and flare.  I can't get into my new space until August, but I will definitely be busy dreaming up ideas and when I get there... photos will follow.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Unexpected

Here we are at the end of the school year.  We are reviewing everything we have been learning... alphabet, phonics, numbers, number words, adding, counting, planting, growing... but we could have never have planned a better lesson than the unplanned one that a parent presented us with recently.  She brought in 3 day old ducklings and said, "Here, would you like them for the day??" No warning, no time to think about food, water, what would I do with them.  I just looked at her and said, "You BET!!!"

We had such a wonderful day with them.  During the month of February we had 12 chicks in our room for 2 weeks, and this was a great way to compare the differences and similarities between the two birds.  We talked about their weight, the food they ate, how much they ate, we got to hold them and pet them and cuddle with them.  They fell asleep in the kids hands and it was the cutest thing to see.  The ducklings beaks are rounded, so when they peck at you it has no real feeling,  and even though the chicks didn't really hurt when they pecked at us, it was a little bit more of a prick then the ducklings.  The kids were able to make so many connections that they wouldn't have been able to do without this hands on experience.  The kids really loved it and I am proud to say that I am the kind of teacher that allowed them to have that experience!!  I didn't think twice about it, because sometimes the best learning comes in the unexpected!!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Outdoor Classroom and the Academic Parent

We are very lucky to have our school adjacent to a local nature preserve with a small path that follows along a local lake.  We have taken on a small area as an outdoor classroom for our TK students and try to get out there at least once a week. 

Although I know how important the outdoor space and our outdoor learning is, some of the parents in our school do not see the importance of their children using our outdoor space for learning.  I try to give parents examples of what we do out there, just take the weaving photo above... we set that up for the children to practice their weaving skills within a larger area.  Using more natural materials they are able to problem solve and use critical thinking skills to decide what to put in the weaving area, how do they weave a stick into the yarn compared to a leaf... how many will fit? how much surface will one leaf take up compared to another?   These are just some of the pieces of the puzzle that makes up the learning journey of the early childhood student. 

We have been visiting our outdoor classroom since early September, while out there the students found an old tree that had fallen.  They used it for many adventures, pretending it was a boat, a tight rope, a mountain, a bear den... just to name a few.  Also, on this fallen tree was a log that had fallen the opposite way and was sitting like a see-saw against the fallen tree.  All Fall and Winter the kids played on that log, trying to get it to move like a see-saw, but it was sitting on the fallen tree in an unbalanced way.  On the first day of Spring we went out to our outdoor classroom and the kids were over there playing when my co-teacher and I heard lots of hooping and hollering coming from that part of the outdoor classroom, the kids actually got that log to move like a see-saw by placing more kids on one side than the other.  Do they know the mechanics that made it work?? Not the specifics, but after much talking, working together, critical thinking, problem solving and most importantly, taking a big risk on having lots of kids on one side of a wobbly log just to move the child on the other end a little... Well let me tell you... it was AMAZING!!!  They were soooo proud of themselves!!  We tried to bring that joy to the parents, but can you believe we actually had parents who could not see the benefits of the learning experience that their child just had, well, believe it!! 

In early childhood learning the child learns through PLAY and playing in nature only enhances that adventure and helps to make meaning that a preschooler can understand and relate to.  So, I have been trying to convey this information to our families.  I need to make these parents see the benefits of our outdoor classroom compared to having a preschooler fixated on reading and math through sit down work, flashcards, and that darn "My Baby Can Read" program!!!  My summer will be spent coming up with an outdoor curriculum that these parents can relate to, that can be assessed so they can "SEE" what their child is learning, but I know that the things they can't see are the important things, and as I long as I know they are getting those unseen experiences, I know I am giving these children an adventure I know they wouldn't get otherwise.

Any ideas how to go about this?? I welcome the comments and advice!!!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Day in the Life...

(A Rainbow Symmetry Project)

What does a day in our TK look like??  Well, I'll tell you...

Our students arrive to school between 8 & 8:30am... during that time we have open centers for them to play at.  Usually at least one center centers around our theme and a standard we are trying to teach that week.  For example... I will put 6 to 8 white boards out on the table with letters, words, or numbers that the kids can use to write individually, use in stories to accompany pictures they may draw or just copy and read to a friend.

8:30 starts our day... after clean up we may start with our Circle, where we learn about the calendar, numbers, letters, counting, the weather, and any theme related link we have. We may also go to a Special like Music, Art, Gym or Science.

9:00 - 10:30am: we have open center time.  This is when our students get to participate in both child centered areas and teacher directed areas.   Myself or my co-teacher will usually have one group learning or practicing a skill in a small group setting while the other teacher moves around the room monitoring, facilitating, and/or re-directing children throughout the other areas.  This is when a TK room really shines... there is a cacophony of noise as students really dig deep into their particular centers and learn the nuances of socially acceptable behavior, problem solving, language, communication, fine motor, gross motor and so much more!!

10:30 - 11:15am: Outdoor Play... this can include a trip to our Outdoor Classroom or to the playground, it all depends on our mood, weather, and theme.

11:30: LUNCH!!  We stop at the big kids bathroom to potty and wash hands (getting ready for that next step to Kindergarten!!)

12:15 - 1:15: Rest Time

1:15 - 2:15: Wake Up, pack up, we then do a whole group activity... this could include Letter/Number Bingo, Math Games, Writing Games or another Special.

2:15: SNACK!!!

2:45: Pack Up and Carpool

That is our day in a nut shell... when I write it out it feels like such a short time for any "formal" teaching, but then I think about all the little teachable moments we have during the day.  In TK that is where the learning really happens.  When I see a friend help another get up after a fall, or tell a friend that they should sit quietly during the Mystery Reader because it is polite... those are the little things I love seeing.  Yes, I know I am doing my job when we see our students recognizing numbers, sounding out letters or trying to write phonetically... but I like to look at the bigger picture, who will these little wonders become?? Where will the life lessons they learned in TK take them and how will it effect who they are later in life??  If I can answer that I am a great role model, give all of myself, am empathetic, and shower them with love to build self-esteem and self-confidence... I know I am doing my job and with their parents I can make a great impact on them, both academically and emotionally.

A Beginning

I can't believe the year is almost over and I haven't started this new blog yet.  I was going to just continue my Kozy Kids Family Childcare blog but I felt that my Journey into TK has been one that needs its own space.  So, here I am.

What is TK??  Well, in our school it is a Transitional Kindergarten class that works with children between 4 and 5 year olds, but tends to focus on those children who miss the cut off date for kindergarten and need something a little more than a 4yr old preschool program.  I love my job!!  I love going to work and seeing all those little faces ready to learn and grow.  It is a privilege to me that these parents choose our program and our room for their child.  It is my goal to go above and beyond everyday; caring for, teaching, and loving their child. 

I want to use this blog to show a little of what we do everyday to achieve that goal. I hope you enjoy!!!